Working on the Hasegawa Kubelwagen required some research that went beyond my own personal library. Part of it had to do with the old chestnut of tarpaulins / canvases used by the Germans during the Second World War…in particular, what colours they were. I was also interested in some interior decoration – I wanted to see what the dashboard looked like and a few other small details.

I started off with Google, using the ‘image search’ option. The results quickly pointed to a better way of searching – using Flickr.

I’ve mentioned Flickr a few times on this blog. I’d forgotten its usefulness for a search like this. You see, Flickr has photos taken by enthusiasts whom take photos of exhibits at military museums; photos taken by participants at re-enactment events; photos taken by spectators at re-enactment events and so on and so forth. Some exhibit photos or re-enactor vehicle photos would do the job nicely – because they take the kinds of photos modellers want and need! Multiple angles, close-up on details, interiors.

It was as simple as typing ‘kubelwagen type 82’ and I was presented with a page of very useful results. I found what I needed pretty quickly!

The Kubelwagen has been a little less straightforward than the schwimmwagen as I’d chosen to assemble and paint the kubelwagen driver first before glueing  him and his seat into place. This was a good idea that turned out badly. I had not done a test fit prior to painting – his feet were too big and his left shoulder was hitting the door and preventing the seat from locking into place. These were things I had to remedy after the fact, requiring filing done, re-painting and re-glueing and also damaging the MG pintle (which ended up having to be completely redone with some added kitbashing too).  It looks fine now, but wasn’t worth the bother. I’ve undercoated another Kubelwagen and will be doing it with occupants in situ.

First game for 2009

April 11, 2009

A fortnight back, Peter and I went to NWA for a game of Panzerfaust: Iron Fist. Here’s what happened:

First thing was to set up a map for an Encounter scenario. The map agreed upon was thus: map-for-march-2009

Just a road with some hills, copses, a burnt-out forest (impassible terrain for vehicles – see earlier posts for its construction) some thickets and good grassland. A roll of the dice resulted in there being No Wind for the duration of the game. I asked that we play lengthways, rather than the traditional widthways. Since I was fielding Jagdpanthers, Peter agreed to this…even so, there was some concern that it might take too many rounds before enough tanks were in effective range to decide the outcome of the game.

I was playing with 5345 Points Value (much higher than normal) – 4 Jagdpanthers, 6 Tiger Is, 4 StuGs – that comprised one ad-hoc company. Peter had three tank companies.

TURN ONE: The objective was to reach the exact centre of the board.

Peter reckons he’s stumped about deployment, but I’m not. Any plan is better than no plan! My Tigers will take the left flank, the Jagdpanthers the copse on the right flank, and the StuGs will hold the middle (but just hold it…they can’t expect to kill much).

The StuGs and Jagdpanthers advanced to or through woods, depending on their proximity to same  jagdpanthers-using-terrain-1. The Tigers stayed in the woods and opened fire on the IS-2s that appeared opposite them. There was one hit but it bounced off an IS-2 hull.

TURN TWO: I continued to cautiously move the StuGs and Jagdpanthers forward. Another Tiger scored a hit but to no effect. The Russians moved the bulk of their threatened IS-2s to hull-down positions while three returned fire, knocking out Tiger #22. death-of-a-tiger-2 I tested Morale – all OK.

TURN THREE: Now I aggressively pushed my StuGs and Jagdpanthers forward, trying to get them into optimum firing positions. stug-platoon-moving-to-position-2 The Tigers moved cautiously. A company of T-34-85s now made their presence known, emerging from behind a wood. The IS-2s hit a second Tiger, is2s-early-taking-apart-the-tigers destroying its main gun (the mighty 88mm). To protect his comrades, that Tiger laid down a smokescreen with his smoke launchers.

TURN FOUR: The Jagdpanthers finally reached their firing position, jagdpanthers-in-position-and-commencing-firing from where they could gain a little concealment and kill the ISU-152s opposite them. The StuGs knew they had to fire a smokescreen to block the LOS (line of sight) of the ISU-152s, so they swivelled and loaded smoke shells. The Tigers moved to a better position to try to deal with the superior IS-2s. An ISU-152 killed a StuG, but the remaining StuGs successfully laid down a smokescreen stugs-lay-a-smokescreen .

TURN FIVE: Battle was now truly joined. Both sides manouvered extensively, jockeying for position.

The ISU-152s and Jagdpanthers opened up on eachother, with one Jagdpanther lost for two knocked-out ISU-152s. A second Jagdpanther was tracked. isu152s-1 The Russian Morale Check was passed OK.

The StuG platoon command vehicle was immobilised. This was bad, but there was no need for me to test the whole platoon’s Morale, just that of the command vehicle itself.

TURN SIX: The Jagdpanthers swivelled to shoot up IS-2s and T-34-85s jagdpanthers-killing-isu152s. StuGs that could advance did so and the Tigers stayed obscured by trees while they advanced.

The Jagdpanthers then experienced a savage exchange – two more were lost, including the platoon command vehicle. I checked the survivors’ Morale – Shaken. I tested the whole Company – OK.

TURN SEVEN: With more IS-2s killed, the Tigers came back into the action. My lone Jagdpanther was Shaken – so he simply held his position and fired, since he was not being forced to flee or surrender. He killed a T-34-85 platoon command vehicle t34s-mid-war-taking-fire, and that platoon became Shaken. Trying to get revenge, the T-34-85s returned fire and hit the Jagdpanther, but to no effect.

The Stalins killed another Tiger, but I rolled a strong Morale check of 11 – Fine! I was still in the game!

TURN EIGHT: Where the T-34-85s failed in killing that lone operational Jagdpanther, the ISU-152s succeeded. russians-grinding-on-to-victory I tested my whole Company – a 9 – Fine. Then the IS-2s killed my Company Command Tiger – and that was the end of the game.

RESULTS Not only did the Russians put a lot of my vehicles out of action, they got closer to the objective than I did. I got to see the killing power of IS-2s, ISU-152s and Jagdpanthers in action…those Jagdpanthers are deadly, even at long range.

I was disappointed by my Tigers vs. those IS-2s…but this was a historical outcome, the Tiger was outclassed and outgunned by the IS-2, even the early IS-2s.

Tip for the game? Use my smokescreens earlier!

All photos are over at my Flickr account.

Although they were finished a fortnight ago, I wasn’t able to get around to photographing my completed Tigers until yesterday.

Now, these are Revell kits 03116 and 03161 – the difference being that in 03161 you also get a set of German infantry in Winter/Late War cammo gear.

I’ve posted here and there on what I discovered as I built and painted this kit. The only real troubles I had were 1) where I had used track links that are meant to get stuck on the turret as ‘ordinary’ track links, requiring those links that were glued onto the turret to require a little extra effort, and 2) when I realised I had to manually drill a hole (or two?) into the turret roof before assembly – but I’d already assembled.

Here’s the platoon:

tiger-platoon

The camouflage I chose was the Dark Yellow with Chocolate Brown scheme that GrossDeutschland’s organic Tiger unit at some stage in Southern Russia. I didn’t ‘mottle’ particularly well – in fact, until I applied the Kommando Khaki dust coats, they looked like milk cows!

You can see the camouflage pattern I did clearly in this photo of the platoon commander’s vehicle:

natural-aerial-view-of-commanders-tiger

I mentioned near the outset of their construction abouthow I was inspired by a colleague’s Panzer IIIs and StuGs, which looked so real because of dust coats and plenty of stowage and that I was going to add stowage to these Tigers.

I then discussed how I secured a barrel to a turret (which I directly based from a source historical photo). You can see the final product, painted-fishing-line-representing-steel-wire, here:

tiger-detail-secured-barrel-again

Pretty good, I reckon!

You can see all nine photos over at my Flickr account.

I think this is a very good kit. Great realism, not too complicated, sturdy and paints up very well. I’ve got two more to assemble as Company Commanders’ vehicles – once I’ve finished the Horch 108s, that is.

This is an another aside, but important because it continues what I was discussing in my previous post.

I found searching through Flickr for good photographs for which to examine brick colours, surrounding terrain detail, tree shapes, water course colours, town layouts and the like very time-consuming for the few useful photos I found. This is largely because few people will use the same words as Tags to describe their photographs as you use for searching. Exceptions are the WW2 history buffs, but many photographs are those belonging to tourists and they will use general terms for their subject content, such as “house” +”Germany”, whereas you’ll be looking for “town house” + “brick” + “world war”.

I would therefore advocate using Google or Alltheweb or whatever your favourite search engine is, and just do webpage searches, not image searches – again, because images embedded or linked on webpages often don’t have the sorts of words you’ll be trying to search with (some may just have a number). However, as part of your search, do try using “photo” as part of the search.

Do some searches and do look through at least the first five pages of results. Do try looking at some webpages and have a look at the photos/images there. Once you strike gold, mine the whole seam and if the website has a page of Links, try those links too.

To date, those have been my experiences and these techniques will be what I keep using into the first part of 2009. Hopefully by then, photos in Flickr may have some better Tags.

I realise that I have forgotten to mention my other photographic source for researching the colours for those Fujimi 1:76 houses…Flickr. To be precise, this photo by Britta. I know that it’s not actually a house, but when compared with photos from Oradour-sur-Glane, I can see enough to know what to use on my palette.

A mixture of the Citadel oranges, both straight and in blends,  with some darker parts done with straight Terracotta, did the job.

***

Tomorrow the caulk on the pond terrain piece should have finished setting. We’ve had glorious warm weather for early Spring…days of 25 degrees celcius and bright sunshine five days out of seven.

The caulk I’m using is already a good earthy brown, but I’m still going to go at at with that acrylic paint for houses (colour name: Kayak) and my Citadel paints.

The above are the completed PaK 38’s by ACE. Crew figures were from Pegasus Miniatures’ Mortar sets, Italeri and one odd bod that I purchased as part of a collection at a Swap&Sell. They have turned out pretty well – definitely painting, basing and adding crew makes them more attractive. Here’s a close-up:

You can see all six photos over at my Flickr account.

Time for a final gripe, though – while flocking, three of the six wire handgrips that I had to supply myself came off the gun struts – one off each gun. I gave up and decided that all three guns will have to be “battle-damaged”, becuase I wasn’t going to try to go through the rigmarole of glueing and painting new ones on.

I’m looking forward to trying the Italeri ‘PaK 40 with Servants’ kits I’ve got.

On parade

June 1, 2008

Yesterday I took some photos of the completed A Company. Not only was the lighting good, but both the regular uniforms and the winter “mouse-suits” came out perfectly. Judge for yourself:

A Company, German infantry from the Eastern Front, suitable for 1941-1943

Here’s a close-up of one platoon:

Close-up - German infantry - especially showing the \"mouse-suit\"

From another angle:

From a different angle, showing prone and upright soldiers

You can see all of the photos over at my Flickr account.

Last year I purchased a secondhand, unwanted HO scale railway station from one of my favourite hobby suppliers. The maker is AMRI – I think they are long out of business, but they produced a lovely railway station circa 1930-1950’s Melbourne. I decided to assemble it and then add lots of bomb damage, in order to use it in games re-enacting the battles over Mga station.

First though, the kit had been in it’s box a bit long and long parts of it were slightly bent. I decided to fix it’s slight warping by gently heating the curved parts under the grill. This promptly completely melted the roof beyond repair (bad pun), so I put the rest of it aside in anger and frustration. Over the last nine months, I slowly picked it up again, decided to have a second go, glued it together, added bomb damage by using side cutters, then slowly painted it. It was completed on Friday, and has turned out extremely well – see here:

The bombed railway station

It takes bases/teams for Panzerfaust Iron Fist extremely well:

Railways station with Panzerfaust bases/teams

Again, more views over at Flickr.

Hopefully Peter and I can now play a scenario with it in the next month or so.

I have used Citadel paints for all this plastic work. With a supplier near my workplace and another supplier near my regular place of grocery shopping, it makes sense to. I am also in agreement with a number of others whom have commented that Citadel paints are good quality and applicable for a broad range of uses. In the past I’d used Gunze Sangyo, but when I started painting fantasy figures a few years back, chose to use Citadel as I couldn’t get Gunze Sangyo easily.

Certainly, I’ve applied Citadel paints successfully to sheet styrene, polystyrene, caulk, plastic figures, white metal figures, wire and more and they’ve done very well – however, I have learned that you can’t always undercoat some surfaces with their spraypaint (much to my annoyance).

The paints and inks mix well and I have experimented with them in order to produce the colours and shades you can see in my work. Even drybrushing was done with mixes. Usually I was blending Catachan Green with either Codex Grey or Space Wolves Grey for regular uniforms, and blending Black Ink with Boltgun Metal for various types of metals.

The bases were done with Kayak Brown house acrylic, which I also use on my hills.

So, I hope you enjoy the parade. I’ve moved on to painting up the 6 MMG teams and assembling the 3 Opel Maultiers. I’ve nearly completed painting the PaK 38’s (just drybrushing and then mud on the wheels to go) and hopefully next weekend I can begin work on the PaK 38 gun crews.

Achtung! Marder!

April 9, 2008

The platoon is now finished. It took a long time, even allowing for excessively hot days and busy periods at work and home – but I wanted them to be as good as I could possibly make them. After all, hopefully I won’t have to do any more for a good while, so these ones have to be good enough to be played with and photographed for a good few years. Hopefully admired, too!

Here are some photos of the completed UM (UM Models) kit number 343, the Marder III Sd 138 WWII German self-propelled gun in 1/72 scale:

The other 3 Marder III h\'s

Unit 12

The platoon, units 11 - 15

You can go and see the rest over at my Flickr account.

Unit 12 was the best one to emerge out of the other three. The wavy camouflage pattern turned out very well, and I’ll use it again (albeit with a little less curve in it). The other camouflage patterns are very true to life…especially when you have a look at these two YouTube videos, where my wavy pattern is not so unlikely:

Real restored Marder III H in action Sheffield 2007

Real Restored German Marder III H in action!

One of the biggest delays was in the very fiddly work doing the spare track links. All those washes and drybrushing sessions to get them right…mercifully, I didn’t try to be too perfect with the kill markers. They are leaning a little, but only at close-range inspection.

The decals are acceptable, but with drybrushing a dust coat over the vehicles, the decal outline is somewhat visible. I’ll put up with that, as my hand is nowhere near steady enough to even attempt to do handpainted numerals Heer-style at that scale. Mike G can do it, but I can’t.

This friday, they’ll get their first workout, in an Attack/Defence game. There may be more photos of them “getting blooded”.

Cheers from the factory floor

February 24, 2008

At last, the first Marder III (h) and Opel Blitz 4X2 are done.

Here’s the Marder:

Marder III (h)

and here’s the Opel Blitz: Opel Blitz

They both came out fairly well.

The camouflage scheme on the Marder was a lot of fun to do, and I hope fairly historically accurate. The darkness of each colour shows the technicals and crew had plenty of the new paint and spare petrol to play with in making and applying it.

The Marder turned out to be fairly straightforward to assemble, until it came to assembling the gun and turret. The gun was far more work than it should be, with elevation wheels that had to be individually glued on and pins that weren’t big enough to truly support the barrel on it’s frame. The turret is made of individual plates of armour (historically accurate) but they don’t necessarily sit well or fit well, and the instruction sheet is done from a difficult angle to really see how to accurately fit everything. With this model, the turret came out well. With the remainder (which have just finished gluing and polyfilling) the turrets are leaning on angles or look awkward. Also, the grille on the back has a tendency to lean, too. My suggestion to UM would be to make both the turret and the rear grille simpler to construct – less pieces. The grille is in 5 parts – it could be in 1. The turret is in 8 pieces – it could be in 6 or 4. The UM moulds are very good – I don’t think much detail would be lost.

The Opel Blitz was nerve-wracking during the first half of assembly and then fiddly but fun for the rest. My one gripe about it is that the tray didn’t sit flat on the back of the chassis – so it is leaning to the left and looks odd. Coupled with the front axle going the other way (so one wheel is well off the ground), it doesn’t look so great. But it paints up well, and includes GrossDeutschland symbol decals (which you can see on the door) which are two plusses. I’m now going to build an old ESCI kit of the exact same vehicle. It has only two sprues and lots of the individual parts from the Roden kit are premoulded together in the ESCI kit, so building it looks deceptively quick and easy. For example, the engine block is one piece for ESCI – about a dozen for Roden.

Some more notes: the Marder had decals for kill markers, which I tried applying near the muzzle brake and failed miserably. I painted them instead – it looks fine. The Opel Blitz had decals for the number plates – again, the attempted application went awry because the numberplate has the registration moulded on – so the decal can’t glue to the ridges and bumps! I just painted the registration on with a 20/0 brush. All failed decals went in the bin.

Anyway, now the other 3 Marders are about to get their paintjobs. I didn’t do any painting of the hull after painting the tracks like last time, so all the Desert Yellow will go on at once.

72 no. 710

As you can see, yesterday saw the completion of assembly of the Opel Blitz and the essential completion of the Marder III (all I have to do to the Marder III is paint the interior of the gun shield and the gun, then I can stick the roof on, paint the roof and touch up). This brings me to the painting stage, which should be straightforward.

I felt that assembly of that PST 1:72 BZ35 Refueller was a bit complicated and demanding – well, assembling the Roden Opel Blitz was much worse than that. Here’s a quick list of intricate frustrations:

  • Individual footpedals and the front numberplate had to be stuck on.
  • The frame attached to the chassis on which the carry tray rests was 4 individual strands, all requiring seperate glueing and resultingly meant that the tray didn’t rest on it equally.
  • A section under the cab, when placed on the chassis as per the instruction sheet, wouldn’t allow the cab to be glued onto the chassis!
  • Glueing the shovel and pick onto the mudguards.
  • Holes for attaching rearview mirrors, headlights and horn were absent or too shallow
    to allow these to be effectively stuck.

That’s enough for now.  Both the carry tray and wheels were nervewracking to glue on – and sure enough, they are all crooked 😦 So I’ll paint it now and see how that is – I’ve done the cab interior. I liked the way they did glass – it was thin plastic sheet that you cut out yourself. This allowed you to glue around and not in the frame, so you didn’t get glue dribbles on window panes. Nice! Building the ESCI version of the same vehicle will be illuminating. ESCI / Italeri are a good name, so it’ll be eye-opening.

As for the UM Marder III, I think I white-anted myself on that one. It wasn’t as hard as it seemed, but I will say that I think the instruction sheet could be clearer. Assembling the gun itself was scaring me, and it probably was the hardest part – but it was a little bit like swimming; you had to get wet first, then things got a bit easier. However, I feel that some parts don’t line up nicely with others – especially when building the armoured gun cab. That took a few reworkings and reglueings, and a few hard gulps of Cascade Pale Ale until I felt it was matching specifications (I was checking a book on Marders as I went, so had actual photos and drawings to compare with). I liked the individual track links and feel the detail was high. But where was part 58D? These are supports on the mudguards – I was missing a set. I’ll check the other kits and see if they are absent on all.

***

I’ve been working on two FAOs, with their horses. I did my first dappled grey. It looks better from a distance – the white spots blend into the grey more. I like these FAOs more – they seem more authentic…but in reality most FAOs worked from dugouts and foxholes, so I dunno. Wargaming is an abstract at the best of times, so reality when modelling for it always must be tempered by that truth.